TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Arizona's Office of Tourism (AOT) is offering advice for preventing wildfires across the state.
And although the hot, dry weather doesn't reach its peak until about July, wildfire risks are present year round.
"There is no 'wildfire season' anymore in Arizona. Fires can happen year-round. We stress the importance of prevention," the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management (ADFFM) shared. "We all need to work together to reduce wildfire risk across our great state."
They are also reminding Arizonans to check fire regulations before spending their time outdoors.
Fire regulations are broken down into the following categories:
- Fire restriction stages
- The ADFFM implements three stages of fire restrictions.
- At Stage I, campfires and charcoal grills are prohibited except within developed sites.
- At Stage II, fires are not allowed even in developed campgrounds or picnic areas.
- Closure, or the third stage, means no public access until restrictions are rescinded.
- Fire danger signage
- When entering various regions in the state or pass by a ranger station, you’ll see a large, multicolored sign that indicates the fire danger level, from low to extreme.
- Pay attention to the signage.
- Red flag warnings
- The National Weather Service announces increased risk of fire danger due to warm temperatures, low humidity and high winds.
- Monitor local weather reports or look for a red flag displayed at fire stations.
After learning the regulations, Arizonans should practice extreme campfire caution.
The AOT says enjoying the outdoors safely includes:
- Use a fire pit or fire ring
- Developed campgrounds are the only safe space for building a fire.
- Keep at least 10 feet away from branches, power lines or anything else that could catch on fire and surround the pit with rocks if you need to dig your own in an area where fires are allowed.
- Start small
- Never use lighter fluid, gas or other flammable liquids to ignite a fire.
- Start fires with dried leaves or grass and small twigs before adding larger pieces of wood
- Make sure any matches are extinguished or tossed into the fire.
- Think defensively
- Keep a bucket of water and shovel handy.
- Pay attention to gusty winds that can send sparks flying.
- Store additional firewood safely away from the fire.
- Never leave a campfire unattended.
- Extinguish the fire completely if leaving for any reason.
- Douse and stir
- If a fire is too hot to touch, it’s too hot to leave.
- Douse the fire with water.
- Stir it with a shovel.
- Repeat until everything is soaked thoroughly.
- Use propane instead
- Propane fire pits and stoves are permissible at national and state parks, as well as at Bureau of Land Management areas.
- These are usually allowed in areas where restrictions do not allow open fires.
- Buy local firewood
- Bringing wood from home may inadvertently bring invasive insects, causing diseases in trees. Purchase wood from the campground or a nearby store.
According to the AOT, a camper accidentally started a fire at the Tonto National Forest which burned nearly 200,000 acres when parking incorrectly.
Dry vegetation touching the car's underside ignited a spark leading to violent flames.
Arizonans should also leave any explosives at home and considering taking a reflector with them to signal for help.
The ADFFM has recently launched a new app helping people understand safely exploring the outdoors.
Caleb Fernández is a digital content producer for KGUN 9. After earning his bachelor's degree from Penn State in Advertising/Public Relations, Caleb went to New York where he learned production assistance, photography and art direction. Share your story ideas and important issues with Caleb by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by connecting on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.